Originally published in UWeekly (Issue 41, May 17, 2006)
It’s too early to tell whether or not British singer James Blunt will be considered a one-hit wonder, though he’s reaping every last benefit out of “You’re Beautiful,” his ode to longing for a love that he can no longer have.
Along the way, he’s managed to catch the ears of Oprah Winfrey and Elton John as well as millions of music fans who have kept Blunt’s debut, Back to Bedlam, on the Billboard charts for over 30 weeks.
We managed to sneak in some time with Blunt before he embarked on his spring tour.
You’ve got a heavy promotional schedule in addition to your tour schedule. Is it difficult work?
Some musicians complain about it. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because it can be hard work, but it’s not that bad. Getting up at 5:30 in the morning and flying to a new country, sitting in a hotel, saying the same thing through lots and lots of interviews and then, when it finishes at midnight, crashing out and getting up at 5:30 to get to the next city. The repetition, which hasn’t got much to do with music, is boring but that’s the payback. One has to earn a living and the good time is made up in the fact that I know that I’m on a world tour and doing live shows every day.
The SXSW show where Linda Perry (ex-4 Non-Blondes) discovered you was held in a party room on the 18th floor of a hotel in Austin, Texas. What was that like?
The audience was tiny, maybe 20 people maximum. I had spent a lot of money to get there and had flown out two musicians to play with me. It was a big deal for me to get there in the first place and then to have an audience of 20 people in that room, I thought for a minute I had made a big mistake. As I put my guitar away, Linda Perry came up to me and said, “Hey, I want to sign you to my independent label, and you can chose your producer and make the album that you want to make.”
For Back to Bedlam, you had 30 or so years of experiences to write about. For your next album, are there things from your past that you can use lyrically or will the lyrics stem from your experiences over the past three years?
I think a pretty healthy mix of both. The past will always be there as an influence. And I have things now that are of influence and fortunately not all of them are about hotel rooms and interviews. I’ll be avoiding those topics. There are things that do make me feel strongly that inspire me to write.
Do you feel any sort of obligation as an artist to pass along messages through your music?
I recognize that there is an audience there but I think it’s still probably not best to write songs with a view to the audience, but to write things of importance and meaning to me. So I don’t think I need to make certain statements to make people do certain things.
I’m not sure of your personal status, but if you find the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, do you think it will change the tone of your lyrics?
I don’t talk about my personal life. But I find inspiration in all elements of life to write about so it’s kind of a weird dichotomy. I don’t enjoy talking about it but then I do write about my private life, it’s my inspiration. That’s why I don’t talk about, or elaborate too much about the songs and I definitely don’t tell people who the songs are about because the people I wrote about don’t want to be discussed openly in the public.